The Real Reagan Legacy.

On the occasion of Ronald Reagan’s 100th birthday, Republicans and other conservatives simply could not contain their myopic admiration for “The Great Communicator.”  In reality, he should have been called “The Great Propagandist.”  Or, perhaps, “The Great Bullsh***er.”

For, I believe, the collapse of the middle class can be traced directly to the decisions made during his terms in office.  Take the assault on labor unions.  It was Reagan who decided that he could not be troubled with the PATCO strike.  So he fired most of the nation’s air traffic controllers and replaced them with new, more obedient controllers.

Or take “Reaganomics,” AKA “Voodoo Economics” and “Trickle-down Economics.”  Under Reagan, the administration began the biggest transfer of wealth in the nation’s history.  All upward.

He began by paving the way for interstate banking, which effectively did away with usuary laws that limited the interest rate banks could charge for loans.  And he ended tax deductions for the interest paid on loans.  (For those too young to remember, prior to Reagan, all of the interest paid on loans for education, cars, credit cards, etc. was tax deductible.)  The effect was to enact a huge tax increase on the poor and the middle class while, at the same time, cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy.

Reagan’s economic disciples, such as George W. Bush, have not only further cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy, they have continued the assault on labor unions by providing tax incentives for corporations to ship jobs overseas.  They have dramatically cut the estate tax and capital gains taxes.  They have provided subsidies for some of the world’s most profitable corporations – oil and pharamceutical companies.  They have attacked Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare and even public education as “entitlements.”  And people like Wisconsin Governor Walker are trying to put an end to collective bargaining.

The result of the policies of all these Reaganophiles is that the 400 wealthiest people in the nation now control 50 percent of the nation’s wealth.  To be clear, that means 400 people now have as much money as the bottom 110,000,000 Americans combined!  Even Reagan’s own budget director now admits that “Reaganomics” was a disaster for the middle class.

So pardon me if I choose not to celebrate the Reagan legacy.  To me, that would be akin to celebrating the legacy of influenza.  Or measles.  Or polio!

Body Armor For Teachers.

Now that Arizona and several other states are well on the way to permitting (nay demanding) guns in public places, including college campuses, it doesn’t take much imagination to see into the future.  All professors will be issued body armor along with the keys to their classrooms.  Lecterns will be outfitted with bulletproof glass. Grades will be based on who draws a gun first – the teacher or the student.  And graduating with honors will be determined by the caliber of the student’s sidearm.

What about the impact of firearms on the college social scene?  Will football games be followed by shootouts?  Will the NCAA include target-shooting as a varsity sport?  And what of dating?  Does “no” still mean “no” if the unwanted suitor is armed?If these laws would have been passed before the attack on Congresswoman Giffords, it’s likely that her attacker would have unloaded his 33-shot magazines on the Pima Community College campus.  After all, he spent weeks railing against the college and shooting videos.  Had the new gun law been in effect, he might have been encouraged to view his professors and students as targets.

What will it take for U.S. citizens to realize how dangerous the NRA-sponsored gun laws can be?  Where will it stop?  Will we eventually allow citizens to own artillery?  Tanks?  Nukes?  It’s entirely possible.  We seem to ignore the hundreds of gun deaths each year.  We decry the gun violence of Mexican drug cartels, but refuse to tighten laws governing the sale of guns at gun shows which allow the cartels to easily arm themselves.  Indeed, we have more regulations governing the operation of motor vehicles than guns.

What a country!

Arizona Leads U.S.

It’s true.  The state of Arizona is leading the nation.  Just not in a good way.

For example, we have one of the nation’s worst economies.  Our schools, home prices, and poverty rank among the nation’s worst.  Our gun shows lead the nation in exporting weapons to the Mexican drug cartels.  And, based on the actions of our state legislature, we must have more non-institutionalized lunatics than any other state in the union.  (Of course, if said legislators have their way, we may not be part of the union much longer.)

To elaborate, just consider the bills currently pending in a legislature that is overwhelmingly dominated by Republicans:

SB1433 would set up a committee of 12 lawmakers (of course, they would be mostly Republican) to review federal laws and regulations to determine which are “outside the scope of the powers delegated by the people to the federal government in the U.S. Constitution.”  If passed, the legislation would directly challenge federal supremacy as written in Article 1, Sections 8 & 10 of said Constitution.

SB1308 and HB2562 would limit federal authority setting up interstate compacts to honor each others’ birth certificates segregating children who are considered U.S. citizens from those who are not.

SB1309 and HB2561 would redefine Arizona citizenship in defiance of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

SB1328 would make it legal for Arizonans to defy any federal law or rule if federal employees or members of Congress do not have to comply.

SB1391 would create an interstate firearms freedoms act guaranteeing the right of citizens to bear arms free of federal regulation.

SB1393 declares that the state has the exclusive right to regulate carbon dioxide emissions within the state boundaries while SB1394 protects the right to emit carbon dioxide from human-caused activity.

SB 1545 would allow the production of nuclear fuel in Arizona free from federal regulation.  (It’s unknown if that also includes the production of nuclear weapons.)

SCR1016 would require the approval of the legislatures of half the states in order for Congress to increase the federal debt.

HB2077 requires any federal agency coming into an AZ county to first register with the county sheriff before conducting official business.

HB2471 would bar the appropriation of any state funds to comply with a federal mandate unless the federal government provides a report to show the mandate is constitutional.

HB2472 would allow the state to acquire federal property by eminent domain unless the federal government first receives permission of the state legislature.

HB2537 permits the AZ house speaker and senate president to defend last year’s SB1070 immigration law by lawsuit if necessary.

HB2544 requires U.S. presidential candidates to provide certain proof of citizenship before they can appear on the ballot in Arizona.

HCR2015 calls for a constitutional convention to adopt an amendment to require the consent of three-fourths of the states to increase federal debt.

HCR2022 proposes a constitutional convention to require a balanced federal budget.

On top of all this, the state attorney general has just announced that he is suing the federal government for not defending the border against illegal immigrants and drug smugglers.  (I guess more than 10 border agents per mile doesn’t qualify as a defense.)  Amazingly, it seems that Arizona Republicans are more interested in attacking the U.S. government than dealing with the very real problems in our own state!  Can’t you just picture Nero fiddling while Rome is burning?

Self-Inflicted Pain.

Beginning with the Reagan administration, the U.S. has, in effect, taken out its very large supply of guns, taken careful aim and shot itself in the foot.  Of course, I’m speaking metaphorically, but the damage to our nation is very real.

The Reagan administration’s notion that you could dramatically increase defense spending, increase corporate welfare, demonize unions and cut taxes has had a devastating and lasting impact on our country.  It’s because of Reaganomics that our deficits and national debt began to spiral out of control.  Even Reagan’s own budget director has since labeled Reagan’s economic policies a failure.

Of course, the Repugnants, aka right-wing Republicans, are fond of blaming our deficits on Democrats.  But that’s revisionist history.  Under Reagan and Bush The Elder, the deficits reached new heights.  Clinton and, in fairness, a Republican-led Congress, turned those deficits into surpluses.  Then Bush The Junior turned the entire economy upside down by pursuing two unfunded wars, lowering taxes and deregulating Wall Street.  In order to save us from a world-wide economic collapse, President Obama had to increase spending by providing loans to banks and automakers.  He also, for the first time, included the cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in his budget.

Republicans have seized on those actions to unfairly blame Obama for the deficits.  Now they want to use the deficits to undo all of the nation’s safety nets for children, the poor, the ill and the elderly.  At the same time, they continue to call for further tax cuts for the wealthy.  (Never mind that our taxes are now the lowest in 60 years.)

There is, of course, an alternative to what Bush The Elder once referred to as “voodoo economics.”  As the economy continues to improve, we could raise taxes back to pre-George W. Bush levels and close the enormous tax loopholes that have been exploited by large corporations.  At the same time, we could reduce the out-of-control defense budget and use a portion of the savings to create jobs by rebuilding our factories and infrastructure.

But if that makes sense to you, don’t hold your breath.  As long as those large corporations and defense contractors are allowed to fund the campaigns of Congressional Representatives and Senators, it’s not likely to happen.

The Great miStake Of Arizona.

There are now 15 states considering an immigrant-bashing bill similar to Arizona’s.  Some are also considering legislation similar to a bill currently in the Arizona legislature that challenges the 14th amendment.  And many states are trying to match Arizona’s insane gun laws.

Living in Arizona, all I can say is that other states should be more careful in selecting role models.Since President Obama selected Arizona’s Governor Napolitano to lead the Homeland Security Department, the state has gone bonkers.  After turning our citizens against each other by passing SB 1070, Republican legislators passed a bill that allows anyone to carry a concealed weapon without a permit.  Faced with an enormous budget crisis, Republicans have continued to cut taxes for corporations and the wealthy.  And having labeled public education as another form of socialism, they have made draconian cuts to education budgets.

Now these same geniuses have turned their wrath on the federal government.

They plan to challenge the Medicaid program by denying health care access to nearly 300,000 Arizona citizens.  They are in the process of suing the federal government over the health care mandate.  They have passed a “birther” bill that requires federal candidates to produce their original long-form birth certificate in order to be listed on the ballot in Arizona.  (Never mind that, although most of us can easily obtain a copy of our birth certificate, we would find it virtually impossible to get our hands on the original.)  They are in the midst of passing a bill that denies any future cooperation with the EPA.  Now Arizona Republicans are sponsoring a bill that would allow a state legislative panel to ignore any federal laws or mandates it deems unconsitutional.  (In other words, they would usurp the power of the U.S. Supreme Court!)  And the Arizona legislative session is just getting started.

What’s next?  Secession?

If so, Arizona is certain to be the next third world country.